Page last updated at 00:18 GMT, Tuesday, 22 December 2009

World 'failed Gaza over Israeli blockade' - aid groups

By Tim Franks
BBC News, Jerusalem

Palestinians in Gaza
Aid agencies say the world community must put more pressure on Israel

Aid agencies have strongly criticised the international community for failing to help bring an end to Israel's blockade of Gaza.

The charities made the accusation in a report published just ahead of the anniversary of Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip.

The aid agencies condemn not just Israel, but the world community.

In the words of Oxfam's director, Jeremy Hobbs, "world powers have failed and betrayed Gaza's ordinary citizens".

The charities call for more pressure to be exerted on Israel to end what they describe as its illegal collective punishment of Gazans.

Gaza map

Israel imposed a tightened blockade after the Islamist Hamas movement seized power two-and-a-half years ago.

That was bad enough, say the aid agencies.

Matters became that much worse after the destruction caused by the Israeli offensive in Gaza earlier this year.

The report points to an acute shortage, in particular, of building materials.

A spokesman for the Israeli prime minister told the BBC that Israel remains committed to humanitarian supplies of food, medicine and power.

But he said that sanctions will remain in place as long as Hamas is committed to destroying Israel and killing Israelis.

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